Darren Beachley – May Artist Spotlight
Artist Spotlight – May 2023
“Be true to your convictions and the music in your heart. Don’t make musical choices based on money. Love what you do, do what you love” are the words my May Artist Spotlight would tell any new and up and coming artist. I think this advice could be used by any dreamer – it also kind of goes hand and hand with the saying, “if you do something you love for a living, then it doesn’t seem like a job”. As my May Artist Spotlight, I would like to introduce to you Darren Beachley from Point of Rocks, MD.
Point of Rocks, MD is definitely a small town (under 2,000 people) but has tons of history and endless beautiful views. The name, “Point of Rocks” came from the amazing rock formation that is adjacent to Catoctin Mountain. It was formed by the Potomac River when it cut through the ridge in a water gap (typical formation in the Appalachian Mountains). If you ever make it down to Point of Rocks, please note that you can only see the formation if you are in a boat on the Potomac River or on the southern bank of the river in Virginia. Like many small southern towns, Point of Rocks is rich in history. The town began with Indigenous people inhabiting the area, saw the arrival of the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad in the early 19th century, increased economy from the tobacco plantations based on the labor of enslaved men and women, the building of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, many conflicts during and after the Civil War, and then in 1873, the B&O Railroad connecting to Washington D.C.. In 1973, the Point of Rocks railroad station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1978, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was listed also.
As I have mentioned before, I love when big talent comes from small places! I wonder if Darren sits on the front porch of his house, which is in a cornfield he plowed as a kid and just couple miles down from his childhood home and thinks the same. As someone that is known for not acting his age, Darren, born on June 2nd, began his music journey early. He began the mandolin at the early age of four years old, primarily because of its size. After a few years of learning the mandolin, Darren took on the upright bass. The bass player, Larry Robbins, from his dad’s band is the one responsible for the strong foundation of learning the bass. After Larry went on to play with the Johnson Mountain Boys, Darren was lucky to have Ed Ferris and Tom Gray to continue the learning. As Darren kept growing both as a person and musician, he found himself learning the resophonic guitar (Dobro) and then the guitar.
At the early age of 11, Darren performed his first paid gig with his dad at a place called, “Crummies” and made five bucks. Darren said it definitely lived up to the places name of “Crummies”. After that night, Darren found himself playing many bars with his dad and saw a lot of stuff a 11-12 yr. old kid should probably not see, “but boy, it made for some great stories”. During the late teen years, Darren also found a very useful instrument – his voice. As a male vocalist and playing dobro was not such a popular sight, Darren switched back to the guitar to hopefully allow himself to be more noticeable and marketable, in a sense.
Darren grew up in an era where “if you had a craft, you went with it” and it was demonstrated by the greats like Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, Mike Auldridge, and Doyle Lawson. They all focused on the one thing they loved best and went with it. Expanding on that one thing, Darren feels that it is important to have knowledge of many instruments to help you down the line. Now-a-days, it is mind-blowing on how many artists are talented at many, if not, all instruments.
As his first bluegrass break came with the great, Bill Harrell, Darren also shared the stage with Tony Rice, Seldom Scene and many more throughout his journey. When Darren started his role with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, his musical journey took a different path than he originally imagined. With performing as guitarist and lead vocalist for Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Darren toured across the country, around the globe and the ultimate stage – The Grand Ole Opry. As you could figure, Darren’s best musical decision he ever made was working with Doyle Lawson. Darren learned so much from Doyle and continues to use the knowledge and experience today. As Darren can say that was his best decision, there is not a bad decision that sticks out in his mind. He will tell you that he feels it is important to keep strong working relationships with people and to be able to accept professional critique.
As I continued to learn about Darren, I asked him to describe his most memorable moment. He couldn’t narrow it to just one, he gave me three musical moments that he has kept locked in his memories since they happened. His first favorite memory was on his 14th birthday when he received a dobro from his grandparents. The second memorable moment was when he was at The Birchmere and Mike Auldridge ask him to come up on stage with Seldom Scene and to play his dobro with the Scene while Mike sat a table and watched. These two memories definitely touch my heart and can see why they are great moments, I mean they both consistent of grandparents and musical idols, what else could be greater. Well, Darren’s third most memorable moment definitely surpassed the first two. While playing with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Darren got to walk on stage at the Ryman Auditorium for the first time and have his entire family in the audience watching. The experience was so surreal and special, especially when his grandmother was ill but able to make the trip.
As Darren has had a blessed life sharing the stage with many of his heroes, he has never felt that equal status and continues to learn from them every time he works with them. While he has possibly caused a permanent bruise from pitching himself while thinking about his life, Darren counts his blessings daily for all the people that have come into his life and has inspired him musically. Along with all of those musical inspirations, there are several that are non-musically which have inspired him over the years. The biggest fans and supporters are his grandparents, Don and Mary Pearl. They fueled the passion for music, and it all started that moment they bought his first dobro. Learning the importance about doing things right all the time, the attention to detail and work ethic was what Darren absorbed from a baseball coach, Garel Hauver, in Brunswick, MD. All the people that have inspired him in some form or another in the past continues to inspire him today.
If Darren had a chance to meet up with a person (that has passed) that inspired or taught him the most, he would love to spend a little extra time with Mike Auldridge, who passed in 2012. Mike Auldridge inspired him early in his musical years and Darren was fortunate to work with him in a band for two years. Growing up as a kid playing the dobro, Darren remembers Mike always being so kind and taking the time to show him all the tips and tricks. If that chance was ever possible, Darren would tell Mike, “Thank You” and then, “Hey get your axe and let’s pick one”.
Darren writes all types of songs – gospel, slow songs, fast tempo songs, and many others. If there is something that inspires him or hits him, he will write from his heart. He is unable to write about something that doesn’t mean anything to him. Darren has no favorite spot to write or any favorite food/drink while he writes. He does like silence with a guitar or with a specific instrument.
In late 2022, Darren Beachley released a new album titled ‘The Road Not Taken’ on Turnberry Records. This project of his explored a road that he hasn’t taken and took him back to his roots as a dobro player. Darren has dusted off some songs that he has written over the years and roads to share with all of you. He feels blessed to have made so many friends over the years that are amazing players. The most challenging thing about creating this album was getting all the talent lined up – there are so many great players and singers on the project. After all of them played/recorded their parts, putting it all together was the easiest thing part of the process.
Darren has an affection for all of the songs included on the album. We tried to get him to tell me his favorite on the album but he wouldn’t do it easily. With forcing him, he would have to go with ‘Pictures I Still Carry’ or ‘River Full of Blues’ but then he also said, ‘Ghost of Who We Were’. If you ask me, I will definitely agree with his original answer, “all of them”. This album is filled with all different styles of songs – traditional bluegrass sounds, country style sounds, male/female voices and so much more. It is an album that you can definitely put on and enjoy track by track.
Fast Firing Fun Facts:
What is your favorite Holiday? Christmas, I love spending time with my family
What is your favorite saying/quote? If you can imagine it, You can accomplish it
What is your dream destination? Lake House Deep Creek Lake Maryland
What state has been your favorite to do a concert/event in? Montana… Montana Folk Festival
What is your favorite type of car? I drive a Dodge Ram Truck but Mercedes Benz are nice.
Do you have a hobby outside of music and what is it? Coaching Baseball (retired)
What is your favorite kind of Ice Cream? Cherry Vanilla
What is your favorite junk food? Nerds
Do you have any pet(s) and what are their names? 3 cats – Maya, Minnie Pearl and Macie
What is your favorite book that you read or Arthur that you like to read? New York Times Bestseller – UnFu*k yourself by Gary John Bishop
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? Gene Hackman
What is your favorite movie line? “Pain Don’t Hurt” in the great movie Roadhouse
News or Upcoming news from artist:
As many of you have downloaded or ordered the album, Darren is working on his new busy touring scheduled. Darren is excited to being hitting the road again with a band that he helped build back in 2005 with Bill Yates, The Country Gentleman Tribute Band. Along with doing some shows with them, they are working on a new recording and Darren is STOKED! Darren is telling you to “Stay tuned”.
Website for artist, tour dates and/or merchandise:
Check out the artist/band website for all their new songs, tour dates and merchandise. The best way to support our local broadcasters and artists are through their sales – CDs, albums, shirts and etc. Let’s show our support – go check their website.